Tista' taqra bil- Malti.
Construction lobbyist Sandro Chetcuti denied under oath having an office at Partit Laburista HQ during the public inquiry proceedings on Monday afternoon. Chetcuti and former acting Police Commissioner Ray Zammit testified during the sitting.
In a previous sitting, Speaker of the House Anglu Farrugia said that Chetcuti was frequently at Partit Laburista Headquarters in the general election run-up. The construction lobbyist has denied ever having an office at the PL Headquarters.
- Former acting Police Commissioner Ray Zammit who served between July – December 2014 testified, and said that he never understood why he was never appointed Police Commissioner
- Zammit said that the Security Service never informed him of any risks to Daphne Caruana Galiza
- MDA president Sandro Chetcuti told the Board of Inquiry that then-Opposition leader Joseph Muscat had asked to facilitate meetings with businessmen in the community. He said that he did this on a voluntary basis
- He denied having an office at Partit Laburista Headquarters
- He said he did not meet disgraced former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri before his appointment
- Chetcuti said that he had a good working relationship with disgraced former Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi. He described him as a “friend”
Lawyers Peter Caruana Galizia, Jason Azzopardi and Andrew Borg Cardona are appearing for the family.
MDA boss complained that the media always tried to portray him in bad light. He said that he was surprised that Anglu Farrugia only mentioned him from all the businessmen he saw at the party HQ.
'Parties, band clubs, charity organisations, are constantly asking for donations,' Chetcuti said. Many a times, we realise that we have to give a donation because otherwise things won't move forward, Chetcuti told the Board.
He then clarified that 'moving forward' was a reference to the the operation of that activity.
Chetcuti said that he always donated the same amount to both parties.
Speaking about pre-2013, Chetcuti said that he was hurt by the Nationalist Party about a personal incident. However, the Opposition Leader Simon Busuttil had worked to build bridges, 'he almost made a public apology' Chetcuti added.
He recalled a comment by a senior PN official who had told him to 'diversify the business because there was no more space for construction industry'.
"I never had a discussion on the power station," Chetcuti said in a reply to Madam Justice Abigail Lofaro.
He recalled that the discussion was mainly about the hotelier sector. The MDA had proposed the extension in height of existing hotels, which was later approved, Chetcuti explained.
Chief Justice Emeritus Said Pullicino said that it seems the policy was to meet the different stakeholders and see their policies … Chetcuti interjected saying there was no commitment from Muscat.
'We were worried when public good was undervalued. I've argued with Muscat on this, and we would flag it up,' Chetcuti said.
Said Pullicino asked whether there was a situation of 'I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine'.
Chetcuti said that he had always condemned the behaviour and not the person, 'I've learnt this from St Aloysius!'
He added that he had good working relation with Mizzi.
'It's my way of greeting a person, maybe I overact, I hug them and press them against me,' Chetcuti said explaining his hug to Mizzi describing him "a friend".
Chetcuti said that he was aware.
"As a businessman on a small scale, I always gave the same amount to both parties," Chetcuti said, as he opened an envelope containing receipts of such donations.
Azzopardi: Do you know about a donation of €1 million to the Labour Party?
Chetcuti: Of course, not!
Azzopardi: Did you call up SMEs who were given a contract of €250,000, and were instructed to give a donation to the Labour Party?
'Sometimes he would be there,' Chetcuti said.
'To be fair, I used to introduce the medium enterprises to the Opposition leader,' Chetcuti clarified.
Dr Azzopardi reminded Chetcuti that if wanted he could reply behind closed doors.
Chetcuti said that he could recall situations when the businessman would be given a new appointment to go and speak to James Piscopo. He added that sometimes they would take down notes during the meetings, but he could not reply where these notes ended as he would leave with the businessmen.
Chetcuti described the fourth floor as having a boardroom and cubicles serving as offices. Reiterating that he only went there after the election.
'I was giving my contribution, so that the economy grows, and that the construction economy is given the attention it deserves,' Chetcuti explained.
Chetcuti said that once he was appointed as MDA president, he took a step back from "partisan politics". He referred to building bridges with then Opposition leader Simon Busuttil.
'I've introduced Muscat to businessmen in places like Girgenti,' Chetcuti explained after Muscat was elected as Prime Minister.
MDA boss said that while he knows DB group, Marco Gaffarena, Tumas Group, he was not the one to introduce them to Muscat.
Chetcuti said that Polidano Group, the owner had organised a dinner at his place for which he was invited, but it was Polidano's own initiative.
Chetcuti said that Yorgen Fenech and his relatives were not present at these meetings. He added that he got to know Keith Schembri when he was appointed Chief of Staff and not before.
'I had met with Muscat and told him about the difficulties the business community was facing at the time,' Chetcuti told the Board. 'I think these would speak about policies,' he added. Chetcuti was further pressed to see if these businessmen opened up with Muscat. He said that they might have, but they would speak about policies.
'Muscat had welcomed the idea of the first time buyers' scheme,' Chetcuti explained.
Sandro Chetcuti claimed that he went up to the fourth floor on election day and does not recalling going there another time.
'Dr Muscat who was Opposition leader then, had sent for me,' Chetcuti recalled. 'I used to be in the third floor,' he said. He described his work as 'facilitator'.
Chief Justice Emeritus Said Pullicino asked a direct question if he held meetings at the fourth floor before the 2013 election.
'I never went there, I never had access to fourth floor,' Sandro Chetcuti.
Chetcuti said that when he heard what said in court he went to notary Sam Abela and made a sworn statement in which he said that he had no office at PL headquarters on the fourth floor or any other floor there.
He also said that he never received any information from the Security Service on Caruana Galizia. He explained that sometimes he would receive information from the Security Services. But he stressed that he never passed any of this information to OPM or anyone else.
'I never resigned from the Police,' Zammit said. He explained that he went back to his previous post until May 2015. He then went to continue working at CCF.
He completed his service at the Police Force. Zammit stressed that he never resigned from the Police Force.
He recalled speaking to Justice Minister Owen Bonnici when he got to know about the possibility of setting up LESA. Zammit offered his services wherever needed. He then took up a role with LESA which he still occupies.
Dr Azzopardi asked about the shooting incident which led to the resignation of Zammit. First, Azzopardi asked the witness who was Home Affairs Minister at the time. He replied Manuel Mallia who is related to Zammit from his father's side.
At the OPM, he was offered the job and he told then-Prime Minister Joseph Muscat that he was had taken the oath and would serve.
"Up to this day I don't know why I was placed as Acting Police Commissioner," Zammit told the Board.
Zammit explained that he never received a request from the District Police or relatives.
Madam Justice Lofaro asked whether the patrols were registered. Zammit explained that this information can be found in details of the district. He explained that the Police would patrol these key points.
He said that before he was appointed Acting Police Commissioner, slain journalist Caruana Galizia had a fixed point. He recalled being told by former Police Commissioner John Rizzo that the fixed point will be no longer there. He had gone to her residence and told her personally after being greeted by Dr Caruana Galizia. This was some 10 years ago,
'The detail sheets can be obtained from Mosta Police Station,' Zammit informed the Board.
He told the Board of Inquiry that there were frequent patrols in the area but there was no police fixed point outside the slain journalist's residence.
The first sitting of the public inquiry into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was held on 6 December where Peter Caruana Galizia the widower of slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and Matthew Caruana Galizia took the witness stand.
The public inquiry was set up a few days before the deadline set by the Council of Europe in its recommendations to Malta. The public inquiry board is chaired by Judge Emeritus Michael Mallia, and is composed of Madam Justice Abigail Lofaro and Judge Emeritus John Said Pullicino.
The board’s composition was subsequently changed after the family of the slain journalist and rule of law NGO, Repubblika, voiced their concerns about the impartiality of government nominated members – Anthony Abela Medici and Professor Ian Refalo.
During the last sitting, it emerged that former Police Chief Peter Paul Zammit Peter Paul Zammit explained that when he took over the Police Force he had investigated the case into disgraced European Commission John Dalli. He recalled having gone through the whole file and found certain shortcomings in the investigation. A report which was previously hidden also came to light. He explained that former Police Commissioner John Rizzo did not see this report.